If you’ve ever been involved with someone who was at best, narcissistically inclined and at worst, an actual narcissist, or you’ve felt utterly flummoxed by it having started out so great and then wondering, What happened to that great guy (or woman)?, then you can understand why some people are very gun-shy about new relationships. They find it difficult to trust themselves because they feel that they’ve been misled (or misled themselves in the past). This is why so many people ask me, ‘Natalie, how much does chemistry matter when you first meet someone?’
The first thing I ask anyone who is confused about chemistry is, Have you felt chemistry when you’ve first met someone before?, and of course, the answer is yes.
I then ask, How much has chemistry played a part in 1) your perception of someone, 2) your decision to get involved and 3) your decision to remain? Invariably, chemistry has played a significant role, to the point where some, with the benefit of hindsight, would say it accounted for over 90% of of their involvement (and their problems).
Then I ask, Was this a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship with love, care, trust and respect, or were there issues with emotional unavailability (intimacy and commitment), balance, consistency, progression or shared core values (basically, The Landmarks of Healthy Relationships)?, and every single time, the answer is yes.
Believe me when I say that you wouldn’t have your doubts about chemistry or have been misled by chemistry, if the net result was that you were in a loving relationship.
I then have to ask, Where are these partners now?
It’s all very well having what you might regard as ‘off-the-charts chemistry’ but it’s zero use if it renders your relationship unable to function.
It’s like riding a roller coaster all the time and wondering why it’s difficult to stand on solid ground, why your stomach’s lurching, and why it only feels ‘normal’ on the rollercoaster, chasing a feeling that you haven’t been able to recapture at quite the same level that it was on that very first ‘high’.
If you have a type and are yet to have a successful, loving relationship with it, or you don’t think you do, but have relied on initial chemistry time and again and found yourself in problematic relationships or struggling to make it past the first few dates, weeks or months, chemistry is the pothole that you keep walking into instead of around it.
Chemistry is that hard-to-put-your-finger-on energy between two people.
It’s about how they each resonate and yes, it of course needs to be positive, but the chemistry is questionable if what results is something rather chaotic or even catastrophic.
It’s not that chemistry isn’t a factor in a relationship but it’s too much to expect chemistry with a stranger, especially when you might lack the self-awareness to understand why you might be attracted in the first place and are, whether it’s consciously or not, repeating a pattern that isn’t working for you.
It’s one thing to feel chemistry with a stranger or someone you’ve been on a few dates with and to have your self-esteem to ground you in letting them (and you) unfold to see how things stack up, but it’s another thing altogether when you experience that same chemistry, assume that it’s a positive attraction and proceed despite subsequent information that suggests that you halt.
Any so-called chemistry that’s felt between you and another person shouldn’t make you less of who you are, off balance, or quite simply, unable to function.
No relationship with healthy chemistry should put you into a child role where they’re an authoritarian parental replacement, nor should it leave you (and them) emotionally unavailable, sampling the highs and tasty bits but unwilling to put down roots and have stability.
Loving relationships or even just healthily engaging with a person full stop, have the all-important quality of balance.
In loving relationships, each partner regulates each other as opposed to being sent into turmoil.
Turmoil might be what’s familiar but when you choose loving relationships, you choose calm.
Chemistry, like secondary values (physical attributes, hobbies, interests and other taste-related things), only matters if the relationship is working because you’re happy together in a mutually fulfilling relationship that’s going somewhere.
Healthy, loving chemistry is a by-product of a two people aligning in terms of values so if you want to stop being tripped up by chemistry, get clear on your own values and live by them and also become more conscious about the values that speak for your future partner and relationship.
You don’t know a person when you first meet them, so chemistry is something to be mindful of in terms of ascertaining whether you’re a good fit, but it’s not what you would base a decision to proceed on. If you’re a good fit, there’s evidence beyond hard-to-put-your-finger on chemistry and ultimately, getting to know someone is something that takes time and experience.
If you don’t consciously choose the type of partners you want to be involved with, you will use chemistry in lieu of the vulnerability that comes with truly showing up and getting to know someone. You will rely on intensity and the feelings you associate with chemistry to guide you, and not only mistake these for intimacy but feel unable to trust you. Those feelings may be communicating fear and the familiarity of your pattern.
Make a note of these feelings so that the next time they show up, you use them as a cue to stop, look and listen so that you discern where you might be repeating a pattern.
If paying attention to chemistry isn’t working for you, pay attention to whether you’re more of who you are, whether things feel and are different to how they have been (which might include it being calm), and paying attention to whether the signs of a relationship that’s going somewhere good are unfolding.
You always know you’re on the right track in terms of moving towards the loving relationship you want when, even though they might not have worked out, the quality of partner and relationship improves and/or you are flushing out of inappropriate/unworkable involvements much quicker than you would have done before. It’s called growing in awareness but you’re also altering who you will experience chemistry with in the future.
If you’re in London or Dublin, check out The Breakthrough workshops where I’ll be helping people crack patterns. For more on what a loving relationship involves and how they start out, check out Love, Care, Trust & Respect.
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